…a jigsaw puzzle is a tiling puzzle that requires the assembly of numerous small, often oddly shaped, interlocking and tessellating pieces. Each piece usually has a small part of a picture on it; when complete, a jigsaw puzzle produces a complete picture.1
…a stakeholder is a person or organization that is actively involved in the project, or whose interests may be positively or negatively affected by execution or completion of the project.2
Fabric and Fit
Stakeholders, when properly identified and analyzed, weave the fabric on which project and programs are built. They are a jigsaw puzzle of influences that come from multiple backgrounds or disciplines; can be internal or external to the organization and possess different levels of authority and interests. However, all stakeholders have one thing in common . . . they ‘fit’ together to meet a strategic goal. This ‘fit’ enables the project manager to focus on the relationships necessary to ensure success of the project.
Step 1: Analysis
Stakeholder Analysis is a technique of systematically gathering qualitative and quantitative information. The intent is to identify interests, expectations and influence of each stakeholder in order to develop ‘relationships’ that can be leveraged to enhance the project’s chance of success. Specifically, collect what you know about the stakeholder with regard to role, department, interest expectation and influence level – be sure to include those individuals who may be external to the organization. The next step is classification.
Step 2: Impact
To be effective, identify the potential impact or support each stakeholder has and classify them in order to develop a stakeholder management strategy. There are multiple classification techniques, e.g. power/interest, power/influence, influence/impact; however whatever technique you choose, the result will most likely be a 2×2 grid from which to build a communication strategy.
Step 3: Strategy
Lastly, assess how key stakeholders, identified on the impact grid, are likely to react to various project scenarios. For example, who needs what information, when, how it will be given to them and by whom. The purpose of the assessment is to develop a strategy to influence their support or mitigate a potential negative situation. Even though all projects have communication needs, the needs of stakeholders and determining a suitable means of meeting those criteria are important factors for project success.
1American Jigsaw Puzzle Society
2A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) – Fourth Edition